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Why HR leaders should consider fair-chance hiring

28th Jul 2022
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Following the Great Resignation, recruiting and retaining talent has become a pressing challenge.

In this scenario, fair-chance hiring can help HR leaders access a pool of candidates looking for a job opportunity to prove their talent. This can help organisations boost talent acquisition and retention, thereby achieving positive business outcomes. If you are an HR leader, you should implement a fair chance hiring process. 

In this post, we will share the concept of fair-chance hiring, the key reasons you should consider it and the best practices to follow.

What is fair-chance hiring?

Fair-chance hiring involves accessing and recruiting candidates with criminal records. The key idea is to offer a fair chance to everyone regardless of their criminal history.

For fair chance hiring, HR leaders need to conduct the Nature-Time-Nature test and scrutinise the following three aspects:

  • Nature: the nature of the offence

  • Time: the time interval when it happened

  • Nature: the nature of the particular role for which the candidate is being considered

This assessment can help them understand vital information, such as whether the candidates have a history of repeat offences, the seriousness of the crime, and their employment history following the incident.

How can you mitigate the potential risks?

To mitigate risks and any signs of misconduct in the future, perform a thorough background check. The Fair Credit Reporting Act mandates that candidates must give consent to conduct a background check. So, begin the process by sharing the consent form with crucial details of your company.

However, maintain confidentiality throughout the background verification process to avoid unauthorised access to the candidate's details. Count on tools like electronic signatures to maintain security protocols. Create a digital consent form mentioning crucial information and email it to the candidates.

Request them to unlock the document and sign it digitally to give their consent to proceed. This will prevent any information from getting leaked. The best part? Digital signatures are legally binding.

Similarly, you can implement AI-based tools to shortlist the best candidates, share timely recruitment updates and automate the entire process.

Key reasons to consider fair-chance hiring

HR leaders can reap the following benefits by introducing fair-chance hiring in their companies. 

#1: Access a massive talent pool

According to reports, over 11 million people in the UK have a criminal record, including minor offences, like arrest without conviction or misdemeanours.

Companies restricting these people from appearing for job interviews is a crucial reason they remain unemployed. A survey reveals that 82% of firms believe potential talent is overlooked solely due to criminal history.

Including these people in the hiring process can provide them an opportunity to begin a new life. On the other hand, it helps your organisation gain access to a great talent pool. Thus, it's a win-win for both parties.

#2: Boost employee retention

Average employees tend to switch to new organisations every couple of years. Reasons could be many, including high pay raises, better work culture, and others.

However, employees with criminal records understand they are being given a chance to prove themselves. The seriousness of re-entering society drives their performance. They tend to work hard and stay longer in organisations supporting them.

Around 85% of professionals at fair-chance hiring businesses admit that candidates with a criminal history stay longer with companies than others. So, consider fair chance hiring to achieve high retention rates.

#3: Achieve high workplace productivity

Business leaders that opt for fair-chance hiring can achieve high workplace productivity, thereby maximising ROI.

JBM Packaging, a manufacturing firm having 25% of employees with criminal records, is a real-life example depicting this fact. As per their HR supervisor Ashley Caudill, fair chance hiring has proven a game changer as their top four performers are the ones with convictions.

No wonder, companies like JP Morgan Chase, American Airlines, and PayPal have taken this initiative. Be a part of the community to foster productivity at your workplace.

#4: Move the needle on DE&I

From creating a happy workforce to boosting innovation, diversity and inclusion can help companies thrive. Research from McKinsey reveals that the most ethnically diverse organisations are 35% more likely to perform better than the others.

What's more?

Reports state that 67% of job seekers prefer companies with workplace diversity while applying for any role. HR leaders who disqualify candidates with past convictions can lead to diversity and racial equality issues.

According to statistics, black men are arrested five times more than white men. Not hiring them denies job opportunities for people of colour compared to white men. So, adopt the fair-chance hiring initiative to create and nurture a diverse and inclusive work culture.

Best tips to conduct the fair-chance hiring

Here are a few best practices to conduct fair-chance hiring.

  1. Evaluate each candidate's record for the specific needs of the role

Make the fair-chance hiring practices accurate by performing a quality background check.

Begin with:

  • Verifying the candidate's identity

  • Checking their work history (if any)

  • Understanding their interests and professional strengths and weaknesses

  1. Create a detailed interview plan

The candidates can lie on resumes to get through the job process. Avoid such instances by preparing a detailed interview plan. Create a list of questionnaires and stick to it while having one-to-one conversations with the candidates.

For instance, you can ask questions like -

  • Why do you want to work with our company?

  • How many years of experience do you have?

  • What are your professional strengths?

  • Why do you think you are a good fit for this job role?

  • Have you done any certifications related to this position? 

  • What are your expectations from our company?

Besides, conduct technical online tests to gauge their skills. Avoid questions about their history, as you would be covering them in the Nature-Time-Nature test. This will make them comfortable while helping you select the best candidates without biases.

  1. Encourage your employees to understand the concept

Discuss the fair-chance hiring process with your existing employees.

Chances are, some of them might be hesitant about working with candidates with criminal records. Arrange sessions to explain to them the concept, and its benefits. Make them comfortable by resolving their doubts.

For social proof, you can share examples of companies like PayPal, Procter, and others that have implemented fair-chance hiring. This will help your team accept the concept and work hassle-free.


People with criminal records are as human as anyone else and deserve a chance to live a dignified life.

Implementing fair-chance hiring practices can improve inclusivity and help people with past convictions get employment and live happily.

HR leaders aiming to create a profound social impact while driving success for their organisations should adopt fair-chance hiring practices.


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